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Active and Enjoyable Support for Scouting

30 September 2018

I seemed to have had a lot of meetings and paperwork to deal with this week – it’s a large part of the County Commissioner role - but as you'll see in my latest videoblog, I also had the opportunity to spend a day with some Sunderland explorer scouts up in the Simonside Hills.

There was a cold wind as we were waiting to climb and as you’ll see from the video, the explorer scouts’ attempt to get into a bivvi bag in the wind resulted in an unusual method (and please, do not put anyone in a bivvy bag this way for real).

This was one of a series of activities that Ben Laidler has developed under the Youth Investment Fund project, which is seeing scouts and explorer scouts from Darlington and Sunderland take part in more adventurous activities. So far these include hill walking and climbing and next year Ben will be introducing gorge walking. The plan is to share information on these activities across the county, to help scout and explorer scouts leaders deliver adventurous activities in some new locations, following a tried and tested plan.

I was there volunteering as a member of the county climbing team, part of the county Activities Team, and in the videoblog I’m also talking about Scout Active Support Units (SASUs). While we have around 300 members of the various county SASUs we have very few Group or Distract SASUs in Durham.

That’s a pity, because I believe that if more Groups and Districts formed SASUs, it would be a lot easier for parents and other supporters to provide help for various tasks, thereby freeing up the time of our leaders and commissioners to focus on delivering Scouting to more young people.

SASUs provide a great sense of identity and also allow us to recognise the long service and even the good service of some of our volunteers who choose not to work directly with young people, and who are happy to provide a valuable supporting role.

As we see with the county SASUs, our active support members make a massive difference to the ability of the county to deliver high quality activities and events to our young people, and to provide support to other adults. I’d again like to thank all of our SASU members for the difference they make in the county – we literally couldn’t do as much or do things as well without your experience, skill and hard work.

You can find out more about our county SASUs on the County SASU page and if you’d like to join, there also an application form you can use.

I do however think it would be great if more Group Scout Leaders and District Commissioners thought about what work a local Scout Active Support Unit could do - things like maintaining camp sites and buildings, helping with transport, catering at events and district publicity, to name just a few things that can form the basis of a SASU service agreement.

If you think that your Group or District could benefit from forming a local SASU, drop Assistant County Commissioner (Scout Active Support) Victoria Pelling a line on sasu@durhamscouts.org.uk and she’ll be happy to tell you more about how to go about things.

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